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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, June 18, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. - Robert Kennedy

Story of the Tour de France Volume 2

Bill and Carol McGann's book The Story of the Tour de France, Vol 2: 1976 - 2018 is available in print, Kindle eBook & Audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Tour of Switzerland stage six reports

We posted the report from stage winner Nico Denz's Team DSM with the results.

Here’s the report from new GC leader Jakob Fuglsang's Team Israel-Premier Tech:

After a week of impressive performances in Switzerland, Jakob Fuglsang is leading the Tour de Suisse for the first time in his career with his sights set on a strong defence this weekend.

Jakub Fuglsang will start Saturday's stage in yellow.

When he finished stage 5 of the Tour de Suisse, Fuglsang was sitting in second place on the General Classification but by morning he had inherited the yellow jersey when race leader Aleksandr Vlasov was forced to stop racing due to a positive covid test.

Lining up in yellow ahead of the queen stage, Fuglsang held a slim one-second advantage over Geraint Thomas which he managed to defend in the mountains today on the queen stage of the race which featured more than 4000 meters of elevation.

“We were happy to let the breakaway go away and it took a bit of time but we eventually got a good breakaway to go and I think Ineos had the same idea. Paddy Bevin was riding super strong and controlled the breakaway all day basically, with Luke Rowe, I would say until the first climb and the Astana wanted to try something. Afterwards, we regained control and everything was good. On the last climb, there was a quite a lot of wind, especially at the top there was headwind so it was difficult to do something,” said Fuglsang.

With one last day of climbing tomorrow ahead of the stage eight time trial, Fuglsang has a fight on his hands with only ten seconds separating the current podium riders.

“The time trial will be really decisive so it wouldn’t be bad for me to have a few more seconds on Geraint Thomas but for now, I’m happy to have the jersey. We will see. Maybe I have to attack tomorrow. If you feel good, you have to take every opportunity that is there. One day at a time, things can change very fast,” admitted Fuglsang, on a day when more than 30 riders were out of the race, mainly due to covid.

“I hope I can finish it off in a good way. My goal was to try and win Tour de Suisse. I have two third places and one second place in GC and I want to try to win it. Now I have the yellow and I will fight until the very end to keep it.”

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Here's the Swiss Tour report from Sergio Higuita's Team Bora-hansgrohe:

Today, for the first time, the race traversed through the high mountains, where the fight for the overall victory was on. The course between Locarno and Moosalp first went over the brutal Nufenenpass and then finally up to Moosalp. Due to illness, Aleksandr Vlasov, the leader in the general classification, and Anton Palzer, were unfortunately not at the start and BORA - hansgrohe took on today's stage with only four riders. 

GC leader Aleskandr Vlasov could not start the sixth stage. Sirotti photo

A breakaway was able to go clear quite early and had a lead of about five minutes on the long final climb. A few kilometres before the finish Maximilian Schachmann attacked, but his move was neutralised again. In the end, N. Denz won in the sprint from the breakaway group, while Sergio Higuita finished ninth and thus moved up to third overall, taking with that the best young rider jersey. Teammate Felix Grossschartner finished eleventh today and climbed to fifth in the general classification.

"It was a good day for the team, especially after what happened to us today. There were so many emotions and also disappointment after Aleks and Toni had to leave the race, but with today's outcome that changed somewhat. We were focused on the race and in the end it came down to the last climb. We tried to drop the other GC favourites, and Felix and I rode strongly, but Ineos Grenadiers controlled the race very well. Nevertheless, we both had good legs and reached the finish in good time and we are very happy with that. We definitely want to fight for everything here at the Tour de Suisse." - Sergio Higuita

"We were all shocked this morning by the news that two of our riders had Covid. It's a shame of course, especially for Aleks with the leader's jersey, because it was his biggest success so far in his career. It was then not easy to turn the page and concentrate on the race, but I think we managed that well with only four riders left. Our main goal was to go into the last climb well and that's where Marco Haller, our only helper remaining, did a great job, and the other three also took turns trying to go on the offensive. We're now sitting third and fifth overall and leading the team and young rider classifications, but we still have two tough days ahead of us." - Jens Zemke, Sport Director  

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And here's the Swiss Tour report from Fausto Masnada's Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl:

Sitting more than nine minutes behind the top of the general classification, Fausto Masnada had nothing to lose on the queen stage of the Tour de Suisse, which took the peloton over the Nufenenpass – the country’s highest paved road pass – before a tough summit finish on the 17.7km long Moosalp, a climb averaging 7.6%.

Winner of a stage at the Tour of Oman this season – a race which he concluded runner-up – the man who came close to winning Il Lombardia last year joined the breakaway and was one of the most active riders there, as the group built an eight-minute margin over the peloton. On the descent, the chasers clawed back time, but the escapees still had enough by the time they got to the bottom of the last ascent.

Fausto turned up the heat there several times, his powerful accelerations dropping all but one rider with three kilometers to go. Three of his former companions found a way back, and as a result, five riders went under the flamme rouge. Masnada led out, and despite giving his best, he ran out of steam after the huge effort he had produced the entire stage and finished fifth as Nico Denz (Team DSM) took the win.

Nico Denz (left) took the stage win.

“It wasn’t easy to go in the breakaway, but I did my best in the first part of the race. Then, on the last climb, I tried to drop the others, at one point I remained only with Denz for company, we had a good gap, but those guys who we initially distanced came back. In the sprint, I had nothing left in the legs. It’s not the result I wanted, but it’s still a good result after so much time without racing. It’s nice to be at this level and it encourages me to work even more in this direction”, the 28-year-old Italian said at the finish.

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Tour of Belgium stage three reports

We posted the report from stage winner Yves Lampaert's Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl with the race results.

Here's the report from GC leader Mads Pdersen's Team Trek-Segafredo:

Trek-Segafredo put the Speed Concepts to the test in the Stage 3 time trial at the Baloise Belgium Tour and came away with three riders in the top 10:  second for Mads Pedersen, third for Daan Hoole – who spent some good time in the hot seat – and eighth for Alex Kirsch.

If it wasn’t for a faster Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) it would have been a dominant day for Trek-Segafredo. Lampaert spoiled Mads from taking his second win of the week, but the Dane, the final rider to start as race leader, was still more than satisfied with his ride.

“Actually, I am quite happy,” he said. “I knew there were a few fast guys here, and it’s never easy to win a time trial. To lose to Yves is quite okay; he’s a really strong guy, and normally he’s really good in time trials. I think I can be quite happy. It was a good preparation for the Tour (de France), and I am quite satisfied.”

Clad in a blue, Mads took to the 11.8-kilometer race of truth with a little more than a win on the line. It was also a perfect test ahead of the opening time trial in the Tour de France that starts in Copenhagen, a goal that supersedes all.

Mads Pedersen in the leader's blue jersey successfully defending his race lead.

“I worked a lot on the TT bike, the position, the equipment, and so on, and this was the real first test on it,” explained Mads. “The only thing I could not test was the new speed suit, which I know is faster than the leader’s one I wore today. But the rest worked out quite well, and I think we’ve found a really fast setup now.”

An hour before Mads took to the road, his teammates Daan Hoole and Alex Kirsch were powering through the course. Daan flew over the finish, setting the fastest time, and moments later, Kirsch stopped the clock a few seconds off his pace.

Daan spent some quality time in the hot seat, dreaming of what could be his biggest win. It wasn’t until Lampaert, one of the final riders, that he ceded his time at the top.

“It’s a shame when you sit there for a while, and then you want to win, but I think in general, I can be happy with my performance,” said Daan. “I think I lost some time in some corners, but yeah, that’s a time trial – you always need to go as fast as possible, and if you lose time in corners, it’s also your own fault. It’s a shame, but in the end, I think [Lampaert] 10 seconds faster… Then yeah, you’re just better. There are some good riders, and if I can ride a top 5, in the end, I just have to be happy.”

Only one rider could topple Lampaert, and Mads was one-second off the pace at the intermediate time check.  But over the line the clock showed seven seconds slower for the Dane, who still managed to increase his lead in the GC.

Mads came into the day with a six-second buffer over second place and now sits 10 above Lampaert. Still, he knows that anything can happen in a challenging Stage 4 tomorrow.

Mads explained: “Tomorrow is a really tough day and expected to be hot, and normally I am struggling a lot in the heat. I survived the first day, which was quite warm, but I think tomorrow will be over 30 degrees (Celsius). It can be the end of my time in the leader’s jersey, but I have a first place, second place, and third in the race so far, and that’s not too bad. If I am popping tomorrow, it’s okay, but of course, I will do everything I can to stay in the leader’s jersey and do a really good race tomorrow.

“When you are in the leader’s jersey, you have to honor it and fight that extra bit to keep it, and I am planning to do that – I am going to fight to the finish line tomorrow, and we will see how it stands. It will be a tough day for everyone, for the whole bunch, and maybe I have a good day.”

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